The travel to Chennai, India, to be very frank, started with a biased mind.
Biased because I did not get my facts straight and failed to acknowledge that a lot of things have changed in the last few years. I still recall Russell Peter’s joke when he visited India – he said that when he stepped out the plane, the very first thing that he noticed is the smell. He said that he changed into a Canadian so fast when that happened. I still recall someone mentioned huge rats running about the old airport in Chennai and imagined the horror of dirty and smelly streets. Then I also read about Visithra’s nightmare with hired car driver in Chennai and imagined the same happening to me.
Yes, I was biased but given the urge for a week visit to the land of mystery, I decided to go on nonetheless. I was glad that I was proven so wrong after I stepped in Chennai.
(Our transport from Chennai International Airport to the apartment – it was large enough to hold 8 people and 6 large luggages. Photo taken on camera phone hence the poor quality)
The flight to Chennai was a night flight but despite arriving early at KLIA, we could not get the window seat for the big-boss (who was looking forward on this trip). The flight to Chennai was full and we were kind of lucky to get seats in the same row. The big boss was disappointed, not able to view the outside but that disappointment quickly drowned out once he had sat down on his designated seat and the plane started to make its way to the runway for the 3 and half hours flight to Chennai (he being sleepy helped too).
We took MAS so service was top-notch as expected. But despite that, we still had idiots who brought in large bags into the cabin instead of checking them in but the MAS cabin crew managed to stow them away from sight. The MAS cabin crew also managed to keep the service at the highest level by providing beverages (of all types) throughout the flight.
Unlike the bad service with Iran Air, the calls for fresh water were responded without much delay. The A330-200 Airbus did not have the video on call facilities but we did not complain – the quality of shows provided was reasonable enough to pass the time. Dinner provided on time but it was nothing to shout about – after all we were in the Economy class.
Flying on MAS made us feeling proud to be Malaysian especially when there were more foreigners in the same flight and they too were impressed with “Malaysian Hospitality”.
(I almost had my jaws dropped when seeing the airport taxis are consists of Toyota Innova premium MPVs – I did not get the chance to check the price as we already made prior arrangements for transport. The parking was a bit chaotic but noticed the drivers were extra careful)
After a 3 and half hours flying, we touched down on Chennai International Airport – almost at about 11 pm and once again, we were confronted with idiots who don’t understand simple instructions in English – “wait until the plane comes to a complete stop”. As I stepped out from the plane, I remembered Russell Peter’s jokes but to my surprise, there no such foul odours up in the air.
The airport was clean but despite it being a “new” airport, age was showing up at some part of the airport, namely the immigration check-point (it almost looked like a make-shift stall) and at the arrival hall. The officials were strict but managed to smile seeing my son asking a lot of questions about this strange country. Baggage claim was flawless but it was not smooth – we were one of the last to get our bags. As we stepped out, our relations in Chennai was already standing by to greet us.
We walked out, still disbelieved that we have landed in India and only after seeing a polished Ambassador car at the front, we knew for sure that we are in India.
(Roads are clean and well managed – something that is expected of in a large city like Chennai. The Ambassador car is fast becoming an extinct model especially when there is plenty of modern cars in the city)
And how things have changed – instead of Ambassador taxis and speedy crazy autos, we had flashy Toyota Innovas as the airport taxis and loads of 4 wheel drives (of many models), Hondas, Suzukis and Toyotas at the front waiting for the newly arrivals. There was a lonely Mercedes Benz at the front too. It was a bit chaotic (many things may have changed but poor planning still prevails in many aspect of the city administration) before we managed get hold on our transport (a white TATA 4 wheel drive).
Once we got our transport and managed to squeeze ourselves in the small passenger compartment, we headed to the apartment for late supper and a much needed sleep.
To be continued in Part 2….
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